US-MEXICO BORDER: Second immigrant child dies in US custody

By Ulrike Salazar

Reports of an 8-year-old boy who died while in U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) custody early Christmas morning marks the second child death at the hands of CBP in less than a month.

Felipe Alonzo-Gomez and his father had fled Guatemala in hopes of being granted asylum in the U.S., like thousands of other Central American migrants. The father and son were kept together for most, if not all, of their time under CBP custody.

The official cause of Felipe’s death has not yet been made public. He had been diagnosed with a cold and a fever according to CBP reports.

Just weeks before, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, also from Guatemala, died in CBP custody on December 8. Jakelin’s official cause of death is also not yet known but some reports say it was sepsis shock, a life-threatening condition usually caused by infection.

Several months prior to Jakelin and Felipe’s death, a six-week old baby, Mariee Juarez, died from what some reports say was a respiratory infection. The toddler died shortly after being released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. The family has accused ICE of negligence and has filed a wrongful death claim.

What the recent child deaths have in common is the horrible condition of immigration detention facilities. Non-governmental organizations (NGO), like the petite bourgeois American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the progressive Border Angels, have published reports exposing the inhumane conditions of these facilities, especially the child detention facilities.

As President Trump leads the imperialist U.S. government’s shutdown, symbolically holding the government hostage until he secures funding for his notorious border wall, CBP announced policy changes as a result of Felipe’s death.

CBP said they would conduct a thorough health examination of all immigrant children, especially those under 10 years old, reviewing custody policies, having ICE potentially work with imperialist-collaborating NGOs to house the children.

What is not likely to change is the overall poor state of immigrant detention facilities. These facilities are not only allowed to operate like condemned slums, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE purposefully maintain them to be that way. The intention is to deter illegal immigration.

ICE and the more reactionary elements of the U.S. government bourgeoisie have consistently cast blame on the undocumented immigrants themselves as being responsible for anything that happens after crossing illegally.

The reactionaries would have you believe that crossing the border means that undocumented immigrants have a death wish – a sort of voluntary suicide. They think this way because they cannot fathom a life unlivable without stable work, shelter, food, sustenance, back in their home countries, plundered by U.S. imperialism.

ICE will go on deporting and CBP will go on detaining undocumented immigrants until a revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party rises to stop them. The proposed reforms in response to the deaths of these children are not intended to serve the people but to squash the righteous anger of the masses.

Incendiary will continue our coverage of US crimes on the border, and we will carry on the memories of the fallen masses who will be honored with the initiation of protracted people’s war.